What Does an Alternator Do?


When you’re driving through El Cajon and La Mesa, you may assume that your battery provides the electric power in your new Kia. So you might be wondering, “what does an alternator do?” You may be surprised to know that your alternator is responsible for sending power to the car’s electrical system.

Your alternator acts as a generator while your car is running by using your gas engine as its source of energy. It also keeps your battery charged so your Kia starts the first time, every time. With such an important function to your Kia model, it’s even important to learn how to take care of and monitor the health of your alternator.

Common Alternator Problems

It’s not simply enough to know the answer to the question, “what does an alternator do?” It’s also important to know common issues to recognize that it’s working properly. These common symptoms can be early signs of wear or indicate that your alternator must be repaired or replaced immediately.

  • Battery warning light appearing on the dashboard
  • Dim headlights or interior lights
  • Burning rubber smell under the hood
  • Devices not charging
  • Whining or screeching sound after the vehicle has started
  • Inability to start the vehicle’s engine

Failing Alternator vs. Battery

Because your alternator and your battery perform similar functions, it’s important to know that sometimes you can easily misinterpret functions and signs of your alternator versus those of a failing battery. If you’re experiencing electrical issues, wait until the vehicle is unable to start and see if it needs a jump. If your vehicle dies immediately once you jump-start the engine and remove the jumper cables, your alternator is likely the root of the issue.

How Long Does an Alternator Last?

Since alternator health depends on how often the vehicle is used and what it’s used for, it can be difficult to determine how long they last. However, it’s safe to assume that it will last between 80,000 and 150,000 miles — or about seven years. Here are some reasons why an alternator may not last as long as it should:

  • The alternator is not an OEM Kia part
  • Driving conditions
  • Power drain on the alternator

How Much is an Alternator?

When it’s time to replace an alternator, you’re likely wondering: “how much is an alternator?” Because different alternators are used in different vehicles, the answer varies from vehicle to vehicle. Be sure to check with our Kearny Mesa Kia service team to see just how much an alternator costs.

Visit Kearny Mesa Kia for a New Alternator

Are you ready to take care of your Kia alternator once and for all? Don’t hesitate to contact us today and schedule an appointment for an inspection or service.

Want more service tips? Be sure to learn how often you should change your cabin air filter.

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